Proper Tire Maintenance Is Crucial To Safety

While the engine is the lifeblood of your vehicle, you’re not going to be able to get anywhere without good tires.

And if your tires are not in good shape, you’re certainly not going to be able to get anywhere safely.

“People are always reminded to check their oil and other fluids to keep their cars running smoothly and for a long time”, says George Winkler, Owner & Proprietor of Winkler Automotive of Gaithersburg, the area’s premiere hometown service center and an AAA approved and ASE Certified operation since opening its doors in 1982.  “But we always stress treating your tires with equal importance.”

What Winkler means is regularly checking your tire pressure, checking the treads, the balance, and overall condition, and rotating regularly.  In fact, he offers these five easy – and inexpensive – tips to keep your vehicle’s “shoes” in optimum order:

1 – Pressure

While most recommendations call for a monthly check of your tire pressure, Winkler recommends doing this at least every other week at a minimum.  “A tire’s pressure can literally change in a couple minutes,” notes Winkler, who suggests using a pressure gauge every two weeks, but also walking around your car every few days to take a visual inspection of your tires.  If a tire looks low, check its pressure right away.  And when using a pressure gauge, also make sure your tires are not overinflated.  This is just as dangerous to your safety as an underinflated tire.  And finally, always make sure your spare tire is in good working order.

2 – Treads

Here’s a simple tip to make sure your tire’s treads are safe: Hold a penny between two fingers, with President Lincoln’s body facing toward you and his head pointing down. Place the head into one of the grooves where the tire’s tread looks lowest. If no part of his head is covered, the tire should be replaced.  Don’t find out your treads were too low AFTER you slammed into the back of another vehicle because your car slid when you braked.

3 – Rotate

Rotating your tires regularly ensures maximum lifespan and even wear.  This is paramount to safety, so Winkler suggests doing this every 5,000 miles.  It’s inexpensive, and can be done in minutes.

4 – Balance

Many accidents are caused by tires that aren’t properly balanced.  You can feel this when you’re driving.  Does your care vibrate at certain speeds?  Chances are they need to be balanced.  A certified technician can check your tires and add weights to keep them balanced appropriately.  Again, this is an inexpensive procedure, and can also be done while you wait.  Winkler notes having your tires balanced whenever you buy new ones, when a weight is moved or taken off, and when a tire is replaced.

5 – Align

Proper alignment is also crucial to safety, as well as the maximum lifespan of your tires.    Tires not aligned properly can cause them to wear unevenly, which in turn causes your car to drift, even on a straight, level road.  Again, not safe.  If you notice your car drifting even slightly like this, have its alignment checked out before it gets worse and causes an accident.

It’s during these upcoming winter months when your tires need you most, says Winkler.  Make it a priority to follow these five steps to make sure your car – and the safety of you, your passengers and others on the road – are in good hands with “good shoes.”